Wed | Jul 17, 2019

Thank you, Sinopharm! - Manchester High graduate praises Chinese company for opportunity

Published:Monday | June 10, 2019 | 12:15 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Tagera Ottey had one dream, and that was to offer service to humanity as a medical doctor. Her relentless drive to realise her dream took some unexpected twists and turns, but ultimately, she has been afforded the chance of a lifetime through Chinese medical and engineering company Sinopharm Pan-Caribbean Limited, who stepped in and awarding the 20-year-old a full scholarship to study medicine at a prominent university in China.

“It is a dream come true for both her and the family, because from a very tender age she wanted to be a doctor. This came at the most appropriate time too,” her mother, Melanie Mason said.

A delighted Mason told The Gleaner that it would have been extremely difficult for her family to afford local university opportunities for her daughter, who had applied to the University of the West Indies and got accepted. The cost, however, was out of their reach, so they made several attempts to secure one scholarship after the other, but to no avail, as there were few scholarships available for students wanting to study medicine in Jamaica.

“She took it upon herself to apply for scholarships outside Jamaica. I didn’t even know she did that. It was only when she got through that we found out. She came to me and said, ‘Mommy, I applied for university in China, enuh, and I got through.’ I said, ‘what!?’ I couldn’t believe she got it. She said ‘yes, I applied and I got it’,” the overjoyed mother explained.

“I said to her okay then, so what is the cost? and she showed me the responses from the university outlining all the details. The plan then was to still try for a scholarship. We tried Minister Mike Henry through the prime minister’s office, and out of that we received the scholarship from the Chinese company.

Mason noted that the good news about the scholarship offer came exactly two weeks before Ottey was to begin her studies in China.

“There is no other way to explain this, except to say it was really like a dream come true for her. She is in China studying, and although the distance between us is great, we talk practically every day. She is enjoying her time there so far and has reported no complaint about her stay,” Mason said.

Ottey is already in her first of a six-year study at the Anhui Medical University in Hefei, China. She was the sixth-form valedictorian at Manchester High School and made the prestigious Principal’s Distinction Club for students averaging 85 or above.

Last week, Peter Zheng, Sinopharm’s general manager, visited Ottey’s home in Berrydale, Porus, Manchester, to reaffirm the company’s support.

‘Belt and Road’ initiative

Sinopharm, a pharmaceutical and engineering outfit, was registered to operate in Jamaica in 2016 and is responsible for implementing China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative in the Caribbean.

The company’s growing portfolio includes engineering, biotechnology pharmaceuticals, hospital management, and medical tourism facilities.

“The offering of the scholarship was to show that Sinopharm is not only in Jamaica to do business, but also that we take our corporate and social responsibility very seriously in helping the local community,” Zheng told The Gleaner.

The scholarship is valued at $5 million and covers tuition for the six-year duration of the course, living arrangement, and all other associated costs.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com